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Old 05-20-2008, 04:20 PM
"Steve Lamb"
 
Default

On Tue, May 20, 2008 7:25 am, Florian Diesch wrote:
> * Most of them don't support saving and restoring so it's hard to go
> back to or compare with your old settings

Even worse, they make it pretty hard to do some nifty things.

hg commit
cd /some/backup/path
hg pull /etc

Nothing like a revision controlled backup of your settings.

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Old 05-20-2008, 04:25 PM
"Steve Lamb"
 
Default

On Tue, May 20, 2008 6:49 am, Derek Broughton wrote:
> Don't be a moron. Of _course_ we trust programmers. We trust them all the
> time, or we wouldn't even be using this OS. We trust Open Source
> programmers even more because we can audit their code. Anybody who thinks
> it's safer to edit a config file by hand than with a GUI isn't on my hiring
> list. There's a very good reason that /etc/sudoers contains this warning:

And you call me the moron?

> # This file MUST be edited with the 'visudo' command as root.

Yes it *IS* a file edited by hand. Furthermore there is a simple reason
why that warning is there and it isn't the sanity checks.

"visudo locks the sudoers file against multiple simultaneous edits, provides
basic sanity checks, and checks for parse errors. If the sudoers file is
currently being edited you will receive a message to try again later. "

visudo locks the sudoers file *against multiple simultaneous edits*.
That's the main reason it is there. The rest is cake since you can
still shoot yourself in the foot by removing critical lines that let you
get back into edit it.

Anyone who would put a blanket no-hire because people are competent
enough to do their job efficiently without tons of hand-holding is just
showing his own ignorance and fear. So far all the FUD you've been
spreading has pretty much been shown as false. Maybe you should stop
yelling at your betters and start learning from them.

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Old 05-20-2008, 04:42 PM
Avi Greenbury
 
Default

On Tue, 20 May 2008 12:51:37 -0300
Derek Broughton <news@pointerstop.ca> wrote:
> > Yes. Less necessary hand editing is always a good thing. But
> > hand-editing is sometimes the ideal solution IMO.
> > I much prefer quickly changing, say, the resolution value in my
> > xorg.conf file than running dpkg-reconfigure and *hoping* that
> > somewhere along the way it'll ask me.
>
> But again, that's a deficiency in dpkg-reconfigure (actually debconf) and
> not an argument against configuration tools in general.
>
I'd suggest that any automated configuration tools are infinitely more
prone to that kind of problem than plain text-editing ones, though.

When I want to reconfigure the whole of X, or make some change for
which I am not sure of the setting in xorg.conf, then debconf comes in
incredibly handy.
But if I'm editing something where I *know* the value I want, and where
I want to put it, I really can't think of anything more efficient than
opening the file up, putting the right value in the right place and
saving the file.
Any attempt to safeguard against my putting the wrong value in, or the
right value in the wrong place, is likely to get in the way.


> > A tool that won't let you write invalid config files is not necessarily
> > a Q+A tool.
>
> Indeed - but you'd have to convince me that there was actually a more
> efficient way to do it. I cited visudo which actually prevents you from
> saving the sudoers file if it's not valid, but I consider that a
> half-solution.
>
I can't help but think that any more a 'complete' solution would be
akin to removing the red wavy line under spelling mistakes in a word
processor, and instead opening up the spellcheck dialog box.

> Especially for something as simple as sudoers - you only
> need to know: who can have privilege, from what hosts, and what commands
> they can use. That just cries out for a Q&A system.
>
Or, alternatively, a simple text file. Like visudo

>
> > I very much like the idea of one that doesn't let me write invalid
> > files, but I also don't want to have to respond to potentially badly
> > worded questions. And what if my language isn't supported?
>
> That's still an argument against specific implementations, and not the
> concept of GUI config tools.
>
I can't see how a question and answer system can get round the problem
of question wordings without resorting to the exact wording of the text
file. In which case, it might as well *be* the text file.

>
> > To edit
> > config files by hand just requires that I understand the contents of
> > the text file,
>
> And that's the problem. Most configuration changes are performed by users
> who have, at best, a _vague_ understanding of the contents of the text
> files.
>
For a GUI tool to be powerful enough to satisfy the needs of the 'power
users', it must also be powerful enough that idiots can break their
systems. There are plenty of examples of failed attempts at compromise.
That's one way people stop being idiots - they break and they learn.

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Old 05-20-2008, 04:45 PM
Mike Bird
 
Default

On Tue May 20 2008 09:08:25 Derek Broughton wrote:
> Still everybody is thinking in terms of particular deficient tools they've
> seen. Of _course_ the config tool needs to be part of the package
> providing the application, and so must always be in sync. Given that
> assumption, it's really rather trivial to ensure that the tool is always
> capable of modifying every possible configuration setting with every
> possible value (though rather harder to ensure that it only permits certain
> combinations).

This thread is degenerating into hyperbole about virtual worlds.

Time to show us the source Derek. Please post a couple of tools
that you've written that can be used in the manner you advocate
to maintain my Apache and Postfix configs.

Thanks,

--Mike Bird

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Old 05-20-2008, 04:48 PM
Avi Greenbury
 
Default

On Tue, 20 May 2008 13:08:25 -0300
Derek Broughton <news@pointerstop.ca> wrote:
> I don't disagree with that, and know that absolutely preventing hand-editing
> is _never_ going to happen. But as someone who has brought down major
> banking systems by making the wrong config change, I'm also very aware of
> the need to make some applications bullet-proof.
>

But this is a complaint about a specific implementation etc.

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Old 05-20-2008, 04:53 PM
Jeffrey Tooker
 
Default

Avi Greenbury wrote:
> On Tue, 20 May 2008 10:56:28 -0300
> Derek Broughton <news@pointerstop.ca> wrote:
>
>> Especially. That's apparently Ubuntu and Xorg's aim (at least to prevent
>> the necessity of editing - it's *nix, so you can't actually _prevent_
>> someone editing the files). Haven't you noticed that we get a smaller
>> percentage of emails on these lists these days about X configuration than
>> we used to? That's because people are needing to do much less hand editing.
>>
>
> Yes. Less necessary hand editing is always a good thing. But
> hand-editing is sometimes the ideal solution IMO.
> I much prefer quickly changing, say, the resolution value in my
> xorg.conf file than running dpkg-reconfigure and *hoping* that
> somewhere along the way it'll ask me. If it breaks, it's not like it's
> impossible to fix, since all I need in order to fix it is my trusty
> text editor.
>
>
>>> Or a web server to which one has no physical access?
>>>
>> Again, yes. Apache is less of a problem than some servers, in that I can
>> hand edit the configs and test them before restarting Apache, but I'd be a
>> lot happier with a tool that didn't let me write invalid config files in
>> the first place.
>>
>
> A tool that won't let you write invalid config files is not necessarily
> a Q+A tool.
> I very much like the idea of one that doesn't let me write invalid
> files, but I also don't want to have to respond to potentially badly
> worded questions. And what if my language isn't supported? To edit
> config files by hand just requires that I understand the contents of
> the text file, and have an editor that understands the characters. To
> edit config files by Q+A requires that I understand the language in
> which I am being asked.
>
> Visudo is, in my mind, the closest to perfect a config file editing
> system's likely to get (until telepathy hits the mainstream, anyway).
> It lets me write exactly what I want, with the tool I want, in the
> order that I want to, and then tells me if I've done something
> wrong when I say "I'm done, check it please".
>
>
I have been watching this thread for some days. I am a retired
electrician. I have come to Ubuntu as an alternative the whole
MS/Windows establishment. The paste below is the Intro for Ubuntu.

"paste"

Welcome to Ubuntu 7.10!

The Ubuntu project is built on the ideas enshrined in the Ubuntu
philosophy: that software should be available free of charge, that
software tools should be usable by people in their local language, and
that people should have the freedom to customize and alter their
software in whatever way they need.

"End of paste"



The issue being discussed in this thread seems to be CLI vs GUI. I
submit that the Intro (Mission Statement ) pasted above includes both as
required. I would believe the greatest number of users will be non
techie. These people just want to take care of their day to day business
like web browsing, email and special interest lists, paying the bills
and so on. They have many other varied interests outside of Ubuntu. They
do not have time, or want to learn a new language just to use their
computer. This takes care of the Intro down to the "freedom to
customize". The "freedom to customize" at this time is actually the
"necessity to customize", in order to get a system hardware working with
the installed software. I have come from Windows which is mostly GUI for
the vast majority of users. I do not find it a smooth transition to Ubuntu.

I feel that if Ubuntu/Linux wants the vast majority of computer users to
use their operating systems that they have to be GUI. No language to
learn. Just answer the questions and obtain the desired result (most of
the time). There will probably never be a a GUI which has answers to all
possible questions.

This is where the "Techie" people come in. They are the ones who ask the
extraordinary questions and push the envelope, and find fixes for
existing problems. This requires CLI. The most used platforms are those
which are the easiest to use, and require the least learning. I believe
this is why Windows is so successful. Most people will pay for a program
to do what they do not want to take the time to learn. This at the time
means GUI. No learning, just answer the questions and get the result. So
both GUI and CLI are necessary to complete the whole. The interface one
prefers is dictated by what their user requirements are. I will now get
off of my soap box.

Jeffrey Tooker



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Old 05-20-2008, 05:00 PM
"Dotan Cohen"
 
Default

2008/5/20 Avi Greenbury <avismailinglistaccount@googlemail.com>:
> That's fine, until I want to change only the answer to the penultimate question.
>

Exactly. That's why I'd like to open the file in VI and change the 0
to 1. Now, I understand that there are config options that are not
binary (such as video driver name). For those situations I agree that
a GUI or otherwise interactive interface is preferable. But the
ability to hand-edit the config files in VI is essential.

Dotan Cohen

http://what-is-what.com
http://gibberish.co.il
א-ב-ג-ד-ה-ו-ז-ח-ט-י-ך-כ-ל-ם-מ-ן-*-ס-ע-ף-פ-ץ-צ-ק-ר-ש-ת

A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?
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Old 05-20-2008, 05:03 PM
"Dotan Cohen"
 
Default

2008/5/20 Derek Broughton <news@pointerstop.ca>:
> Again, yes. Apache is less of a problem than some servers, in that I can
> hand edit the configs and test them before restarting Apache, but I'd be a
> lot happier with a tool that didn't let me write invalid config files in
> the first place.

It would not be difficult to write a program that parses httpd.conf
and warns about an invalid file. It could probably even be integrated
into VI. Other config file types (fstab, xorg.conf, etc) could be
added as well. I'll add it to my list of projects...

Dotan Cohen

http://what-is-what.com
http://gibberish.co.il
א-ב-ג-ד-ה-ו-ז-ח-ט-י-ך-כ-ל-ם-מ-ן-*-ס-ע-ף-פ-ץ-צ-ק-ר-ש-ת

A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?
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Old 05-20-2008, 05:11 PM
Bart Silverstrim
 
Default

Steve Lamb wrote:
> On Tue, May 20, 2008 6:49 am, Derek Broughton wrote:
>> Don't be a moron. Of _course_ we trust programmers. We trust them all the
>> time, or we wouldn't even be using this OS. We trust Open Source
>> programmers even more because we can audit their code. Anybody who thinks
>> it's safer to edit a config file by hand than with a GUI isn't on my hiring
>> list. There's a very good reason that /etc/sudoers contains this warning:
>
> And you call me the moron?

I don't know if this contributes one way or the other, but I would
contribute this...

When doing a lot of tasks as administrator at the CLI, it isn't hard to
get repetitive tasks stuck in muscle memory, and it's AMAZING how fast
you can type "rm -fr *", hit enter, and became aware of various colorful
metaphors flowing through your mental self's voice all in a fraction of
a second.

On the other hand I've easily moved whole directories to the wrong place
with a bad mouse drag.

"Safer" is still a question of implementation, so far. No one has
debated the merits or demerits of GUI vs. CLI administration, only their
experiences with existing approaches and tools, nothing intrinsic to the
interfaces themselves.

A click on a GUI interface makes sure you don't introduce typos in your
configuration files. Isn't that safer? CLI tools mean another easier way
to access a FUBAR'd interface for remote administration if
necessary...just ssh in and work away. Isn't that a safety net?

Why not just stop fighting over it and stick with config files editable
by <text editor> but can also be done with a good graphical editor if
you like?

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Old 05-20-2008, 05:26 PM
Mario Vukelic
 
Default

On Tue, 2008-05-20 at 13:08 -0300, Derek Broughton wrote:
> But as someone who has brought down major
> banking systems by making the wrong config change

I guess you wouldn't want to tell me the name of the bank so I can avoid
them? If they are making live changes on important systems without
testing them in a test rig first, I don't trust them with my money,
either.


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